Simon & Garfunkel-Bridge Over Troubled Water

For all my friends, realist or optimist.

Promise of Life

This is a 17-month-old baby boy’s hand, as he gets ready to play with his mother in Tehran. Can you see the promise of new experiences and adventures of life in it? The hand belongs to Shaya, who is Mana’s son. Mana is a young Iranian woman who chronicles her thoughts and experiences in her blog. I found her through Mrs. Shin’s blog, another educated Iranian mother and a writer, about whom I have written before. I go visit young mothers’ blogs all the time, not so much for the nostalgia, but somehow to reassure myself that the new generation of Iranian mothers is doing all the right things in raising their children, as that country’s future rests in their collective hands. When Iranian mothers teach their children social responsibility, love and respect for the environment, interest in reading as a cornerstone for understanding and dialogue, proper communication skills to have those dialogues, and respect for human rights, Iran will become a better place. I believe the future of every nation rests in the hands, hearts, and souls of its women as nurturers of that nation as its mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and friends. From what I see in Mana, Shin, and their other friends in Tehran, and what I see in people like Nimeh Shab in the US, I’m glad to report that we are in good hands and on our way. Sitting here imagining that future makes me so happy all of a sudden.


My New Piece on Iranian.com

In 2001, while on a business trip, I was invited to the home of a family in Mashad as their new family member. They were a devout Moslem family, who lived in an old traditional house in the older part of Mashad, near Imam Reza’s shrine. ................... This is the beginning of my new piece on Iranian.com, entitled Mashad's Collage of Life. If you can't get to Iranian.com, please let me know and I will send the piece to you.

Through The Fog, Hills, and Tunnels

Those who live in this area know that summer months in Berkeley mean early morning and nightly fog enveloping the surrounding hills. This is a typical picture of how it looks every morning when I come into work these days. Directly facing you are Berkeley/Oakland Hills, through which a tunnel runs. My older son, the philospher, and I took the drive again this morning, listening to Bob Marley and chatting, after a long time. After much cajoling, he also read me a few lines of a story he has been writing. It sounded amazing to me. But he was stingy with it, saying it's not yet finished. Through the fog, hills and tunnels, and a peculiarly happy feeling this morning, I am in Berkeley. Photo by Philosopher


To Do List

Exhibit A
I was overwhelmed with my responsibilities today. When after spending a few hours in the kitchen and around the house I sat down to see how much of my " To Do List" I had accomplished (Exhibit A), I was really disappointed at myself! I had promised to read things I didn’t read, and my writing just sits there beckoning me. Right now, all I want to do is to sit here, and do nothing! I also can’t shut off my mind. As I was doing my chores, I was listening to the radio on my computer. One station was really hard to take, as in the middle of news about wars and atrocities and devastations all over the world, they kept playing this fast-beat dance music. One was so boring, as they had these long silences filled with classical music, which wasn’t conducive to doing chores. The last station I listened to was broadcasting a report about Amir Kabir University students in prison, and how their families suspect that they are being mistreated and extensively tortured to confess, to what, I’m not sure. As I stood at the kitchen counter, motionless while holding a rag, thinking about this, I thought how spoilt and shallow it is to complain about radio programming and other things when at this very moment in this world, there are families worried crazy about their extraordinarily gifted children, who worked so hard to get into a top university, only to be handled like criminals and spies, denied basic human rights and access to legal advice and their families. Some days are just hard days to be a human being for the shame you feel about events that are taking place in your lifetime and you can’t do anything to stop or change them.


Beauty and Birthday

This is a painting by a female Iranian architect, named Mina Vijeh. I don’t know her. I saw her paintings on Iranian.com yesterday. She says the following unassuming and profound things about herself and her work, after she had to have surgery and stopped working and started painting again: “I wanted sweeps of color and emotion as a release from the worldly gloom that dominated my consciousness. I wanted to see the beauty encompassing us.” Check out her work. I think she has succeeded in doing exactly what she wanted.
More relatives leave today, leaving just one who will also leave soon. Sigh.
Today is Bayramali’s birthday. He is a blogger who has a keen eye on music, films, and arts. He writes with humor and nostalgia, so reading him always changes my emotional state in a positive way. I am lucky to have met this interesting man over the past year. He is a warm and wonderful person, full hope and optimism. I wish Bayramali a very happy birthday and a wonderful new year in his life. (For those of you who wonder, no, this isn’t his real name.)
I am excited to report that Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam, about whom I had written in June, will be coming to North America to perform in August and September. He will have performances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver. I will write the details soon. Until I do, take a look at this. It is an 8 minute clip, so if you don’t have time, watch the second 4 minutes, and if you still have less time, don’t miss the last 2 minutes.
I continue to feel teary-eyed and reflective this week, but I am deeply happy for all the blessings I have. I go around full of smiles and love for those I see around me, yet my tears shine in my eyes and occasionally fall. I must look like a lunatic to those who don’t know me. Have a brilliant Saturday everybody, and as Mina Vijeh said, try and “see the beauty encompassing us.”


Is The Grass Greener On The Other Side?

This week in Tehran, Mohammad Kheirkhah, a talented young Iranian photographer, has a showing of several of his works, entitled "Iranian Woman" (Zane Irani). Look at this touching picture. Does it make you sad?

Life's Celebrations

Jason is the one sitting in the back. From an article in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle.
Since I showed up to a job interview in Berkeley’s top administrative office in 1987, I have had a friend who is one of the most interesting and remarkable people I have ever known. Nancy is a a very sharp and experienced analyst, with the uncanny ability to step back (at least 10 steps) to look at the same situation we are all experiencing, seeing new things and making suggestions nobody else could see! She is open-minded and generous, and a perfect friend to have. She has been a teacher and a mentor to me for the duration of our friendship in matters professional and personal. Nancy’s son, Jason, who is an accomplished architect in San Francisco, was featured in San Francisco Chronicle yesterday. As one of my readers reminded me this morning, I am obviously getting older, but how come I remember Jason in high school and the next thing I know he is a dedicated professional, showing up in the paper and getting married this October? On the upside (!), I am delighted to observe yet again, that life does go on, and only if we pay attention, each day will bring us hundreds of reasons to be happy and celebrative; especially when we love others enough to see their accomplishments, their celebrations, and their victories as our very own.


Scattered Thoughts on My 200th Post

  1. By tomorrow morning, my family will start leaving. No more about that subject.
  2. Projects at work are taking a good shape and it feels good to get some long-standing commitments off my desk. I will also be learning some new project management software, and I’m excited about that.
  3. My Persian Poetry class starts in Berkeley tonight, but I will miss the first class. I am so excited about starting next week. I will tell you about it in more detail soon.
  4. Does anyone know whether Akbar Ganji will have any lectures in Berkeley soon?
  5. I have finally finished my sad short story. I cried and worked on it, and it is finally finished. You will see it soon (I leave you no choice, do I?).
  6. I am such a fortunate woman! I have interviewed someone really fabulous, and this weekend I will start transcribing my notes and writing that piece. I hope I can do the extraordinary story of this man’s life justice in putting it into writing. You can help me by telling me whether you think I should put it into a “story format” which is my preferred style of writing, or this time I should keep it in the “interview format,” which is more formal and therefore more serious. Your opinion is so important to me.
  7. I will resume going to the Kiarostami movies this weekend, after everyone has left and my weekends go back to their boring shape! Of course this weekend we are celebrating a very special blogger’s birthday, and we will probably have a little more fun that usual.
  8. I am feeding my family our “goodbye dinner” tonight. We will have hamburgers and barbequed vegetables, as everyone is a little tired of all the serious food they have eaten over the past two weeks! I must run now to go prepare that dinner.


Her Son

This is a sad piece. My heart wrote it very early this morning. I dedicate it to Gol-e-Nargess.
Last night I couldn’t fall asleep, because of something I had learned yesterday. I was thinking of the fifth family I now directly know who lost a loved one in Iran-Iraq war. I was thinking about a mother, a sister, and a brother who have had to deal with their loss for years, seemingly never getting over it. I was also thinking about a story I had written, but which was too painful to go back and to re-visit, even if it was just to edit, proofread, and publish it on my blog. As tears ran down my face in the dark, landing on my pillow, I thought of that story again, feeling the obligation to finish it and to share it. I have no illusions about my readership, but for the few that do read my writings I think I will write the story soon. The stories of those who died in the war, whether people choose to call them heroes, martyrs, dead, lost, or missing, all sound the same on the surface. Digging deeper, however, there are distinct stories of each individual, who lived a unique life, touched others around him uniquely, and died a unique death, further touching and affecting the lives of those around him. Since their deaths, families and friends of dead soldiers have all had a life completely different from the lives they were living with their loved one. Their lives are now burdened with feelings of loss, bereavement, nostalgia, anger, and simple longing for the young man who never returned, the way his eyebrows raised in surprise or knotted in thought, the way a smile would dance on the corner of his mouth, the way his tall and lanky figure would fill the door frame, the way his practical jokes and foolery would delight his mother and sister, the way he would steal tah dig pieces from the plate on its way to the dinner table. So many of those families still have his bed just as he left it more than two decades ago, his clothes hanging in his closet, his soccer ball and his badminton racquets in a corner, his books and school notes neatly kept on a shelf. Those families are not waiting for their sons anymore. They are waiting for themselves to finally accept his absence from their lives, or to join him in heaven. There is a story to be told--quite naturally a sad one, just thinking about which stings my puffy and tired eyes this morning. I will tell it soon. Photo by Nader Davoodi, Iranian.com


My New Piece in Iranian.com

One is an artist by profession and heart. He sees, lives, and talks music. When he plays, you can stare, but instead, you want to close your eyes and quickly write memories of that music in your heart. When he sits and talks about life, all the corners of his talk are adorned with artistic simplicity. This is when you want to stare at him, but you know you shouldn’t. So you move on…
This is an excerpt of a piece I wrote, entitled A Family Reunion in Diaspora, which was published in Iranian.com this morning. You can read it here. If you are in Iran and can’t access Iranian.com, please let me know and I will send it to you.


Name That Tune

The boys get in the car very early this morning and decide to play a game with me (again!). The younger one pulls out a CD, puts it in the CD player, and says: “Mom, let’s see if you know what song this is.” I am dreading being quizzed first thing in the morning, having woken up from only three hours of sleep, feeling really grouchy. I don’t say anything to encourage this game, but I guess I have no choice. The song starts and with the first couple of notes of the song, I say “It’s Billy Joel’s Piano Man.” The two of them are so surprised. Their surprise at my recognizing the song is nothing compared to their shock when I start to sing along at the top of my lungs every single word of the song; a song I knew when I “wore a younger woman’s clothes!”* The song ends and the three of us keep quiet for the rest of the drive. It’s been a complete week of trips down memory lane, and this day seems to be no exception! Suddenly I am not grouchy anymore.
*Listen to the song here. Read the beautiful lyrics here. It is Billy Joel’s best song ever, in my opinion. “He says, son, can you play me a memory?/ I’m not really sure how it goes/ But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete;/ When I wore a younger man’s clothes.”


A Wedding Invitation

با تاییدات خداوند متعال به میمنت و شادمانی جشن عقد کنان دوشیزه آذر و آقای ه زیباترین شب زندگی خود را جشن میگیرندتا آنرا به بیادماندنی ترین سپیده عمر متصل نمایندومنتظر حضور شما سروران و عزیزان در این ضیافت شادی و موعد شیرین وصال هستندتا حلاوت آن را با شماتقسیم کنند. از کلیه دوستان عزیز بلاگی ٬ مجازی٬ خوانندگان و کلیه اهالی محترم وبلاگستان دعوت به عمل میایید تا در این رخداد خجسته شرکت کرده و با هوا کردن پست جدید٬ کامنت٬ نامه برقی و... شادی و شیرینی این مراسم را دوصدچندان فرمایند. تاریخ : بيست و نهم تیرماه ۱۳۸۶ آدرس : وبلاگستان - وبلاگ آذرستان دوستان و خانواده های : آذرستان -راننده ترن -اعلی حضرت حاج آقا -بایرامعلی -از برکلی -خانم حنا -سرزمین رویایی -یغورت - حاجی واشنگتن - مدیریت شرکت خدماتی هاذر(مسئولیت نامحدود)- سندیکای لوکوموتیو رانان - نیروی انتظامی تهران بزرگ - شهرداری تهران- خانواده محترم رجبی-سندیکا وبلاگ نویسهای تهران - اتحادیه وبلاگنویسان کالیفرنیا و حومه - انجمن بلاگرهای مقیم ژاپن- وبلاگ نویسهای مقیم اسپانیا - بلاگ نویسهای مقیم دی سی و همچنین اهالی و ساکنان وبلاگستان فارسی و سایر دوستان از نورچشمی های عزیز بعدا پذیرایی خواهد شد!!! چاپ صلاحی - میدان بهارستان


Windmills of Your Mind

I am off for the weekend, entertaining dear friends and family. I am feeling nostalgic, full of memories some of which I had forgotten. Today I remember the road to Rasht. After you pass Ghazvin's Koohin area, you enter the mountainous area which is the entry into Gilan. After a while, you reach Manjil. The wind blows hard and strong in Manjil all the time. Though the lake behind the dam in Manjil is gorgeous, and you could stand there looking at it for hours, the most thought provoking thing about Manjil is its windmills. Hundreds of them are planted in every direction to turn that vicious wind into something useful. It almost looks like a forest of windmills. I have so many memories of Manjil, the joy the little town would give me on the way to making new memories in Rasht and Gilan, or on the way back from having made them. I miss it. Here's a song, performed a long time ago by Jose Feliciano. This song is equally nostalgic, reminding me of my childhood. These memories are just two of millions filling my head these days.
Have a good weekend everybody. This weekend, unburden yourselves from some of the emotions you are taking around. I have been doing it all week. It feels good. Namely, admit, proclaim, and confess your love this weekend. You'll be unburdened.

A New Memory Made In Downtown Berkeley

So, O.K. My kids “borrowed” my car to go to work after they dropped me off in Berkeley this morning. Five minutes later I got a call from my younger son, telling me that they had been in an accident. I ran over, took one look at the two of them standing there, then at the middle-aged man standing next to them, and took a sigh of relief. I then looked at the guy’s car, and last I looked at my poor poor Shabdiz. We have not been a very good family for poor Shabdiz, have we?! It will have to go into the shop again for weeks, it seems. As I watched the two of them on the sidewalk waiting for me, talking to the other guy, I was so happy to see them healthy and in once piece. Of course I kept that serious face on, looking kind of mean, as I casually glanced at the two of them standing on the sidewalk, looking sheepish and embarrassed. I think I’m completely crazy, because watching this dramatic scene, all of a sudden I was laughing inside at how equally “responsible” and “guilty” my younger son looked, even though he was only in the passenger seat! I tell you, those two are thick as thieves! All the while, though, I was thanking God for continuing to be kind to me. Now I’m going to have to frown all weekend.



I was gone a few days and it felt longer. I was only a couple of hundred miles away and it felt farther. I was in the throes of love for those I can't have near, where all I could do was to taste, watch, touch, see, and feel the moments and spaces. Moments and spaces of the fleeting and fragile togetherness which feels so natural to do and yet so forbidding in complexity. Part of me wants to be grateful for the opportunity which has only presented itself three times since 1974 for all of us to be together in the same place at the same time; and part of me wants to scream at the unfairness of it all when we will soon separate again. I look for solace in Sohrab Sepehri's poem, trying to enjoy here and now, while it lasts.
Life is to repeatedly get wet, Life is to swim in the pool of "now."


Dance Rehearsal

Continuing on my search for Iranian dance and dancers everywhere, recently I came across a reference to Khorshid Khanoom Dance Company in Montreal, Canada. My information search was not terribly fruitful, as I couldn’t find a website for the group. I did find out that the group was founded in 1988 by an Iranian woman named Aram Bayat[1], who is Choreographer and Director of the group. The short description I found of the group’s activities says: “Khorshid Khanoom dance group has taken upon itself the responsibility of introducing traditional and folkloric Iranian dance to the young generation of Iranian Canadians, to citizens of the host country (Motreal, Canada) and to the world.” Here’s a video clip[2] compiling several dance pieces they have performed. I particularly like the girls dancing in the rain.
I end an interesting week filled with new lessons, new friendships and deepened older friendships, and new developments (no, can’t tell you about them yet!). I am looking forward to the weekend which will be full of long-awaited visits, chats, kisses, and hugs with my siblings. I wish no less for you my friends. Have a good weekend—sleep all you want, eat and drink what and all you want, and hold and love all who matter to you. I will be taking a trip out of town for several days next week, and I might disappear from the internet radar for a while. Be good you all.
Photo of Khorshid Khanoom dancers Mehrnoosh and Catherine rehearsing May 30, 2007 in Montreal, by Mehrdad Ahari.
[1] See this article which talks about Ms. Bayat’s more recent activities in Monroe Community College.
[2] If you can’t access YouTube, the same clip is also available here, here, and here.


Debbie, Jon, Elvis, and Las Vegas

My friend Debbie married her boyfriend of 10 years, Jon, two Saturdays ago. In a very humorous approach to marriage, as only Americans can, the two of them and their family members went to Las Vegas, where they got married in a chapel with an Elvis impersonator performing the ceremony for them! I asked Debbie why she chose to get married this way and she said because she and her boyfriend Jon were tired of all the more traditional and lavish ceremonies they had attended and wanted something novel and memorable for their wedding. Whether it is in a chapel, a winery, a church, a hotel, a park, or a home, I think the most important thing is for two people to really love and trust each other and to know that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. Debbie and Jon are sure. I wish them all the best in their union.

Gift of Sight

As we drove up a freeway in Tehran, there was a bend in the road. When we finished the bend, all of a sudden we could see the majestic mountains to the north of Tehran, beautiful, tall, and breathtaking. Since my older son was seven and my younger son was four, we lived in Tehran, taking that freeway, making that bend, and seeing those mountains everyday. And almost everyday I would say: “Look you guys, look at those beautiful mountains, and look at those clouds above the mountains! Aren’t they beautiful?” As he grew older and went into the more challenging years of his life, my older son stopped answering me, or he would say something sarcastic, like: “Mom, how many times do you need to show us those same mountains? We have seen them before. They haven’t changed since the last time you pointed them out to us!” But I persevered. I said it again. When he was sixteen, one spring morning after rain had stopped and the sky had cleared, we were driving up a different freeway, facing the same mountains from a different angle, when he exclaimed: “Mom, look at those beautiful mountains! Isn’t it just the most breathtaking thing you have ever seen?” That was the day I knew he could “see.” He now sees the mountains, the trees, the clouds, the grass, and everything that needs to be seen, including beautiful babies and children which he once viewed with a complete lack of interest and disdain.
My younger son, The Traveler, who has obviously been subjected to the same torture growing up as my son, has started “seeing” things for the past year. Here’s a photograph he took one day last March when he was home by himself. I found it in the camera, among some other “experimental” pictures he had taken, and it is now one of my most valuable things in life—proof that this one, too, can now “see.”


Scattered Thoughts of a Scattered Mind...

.....I have been working on complicated projects at work--things that have to do with numbers and budgets and planning. I am starting to deliver my projects one by one this week, relieving myself of the stress, but by the time I finally go home every night, my brain is fried and I sit there in a more or less vegetative state (more so than usual!)
.....I am writing something about the university students who were arrested in Tehran. It is hard for me and it has made me break into sobs several times, abandoning writing it temporarily. Those beautiful young people should not be in prison. What kind of government intimidates, beats, arrests, imprisons and tortures their brightest, most passionate citizens? I am heartsick.
.....The Comcast guy came and my modem is finally fixed. I had to take another whole morning off for this, as last week's was a no-show, but at least I seem to have reliable internet service again. The technician was a kid, I swear, no more than 17! Good for him, as the last two Comcast technicians I had seen were complete inepts. I will call his supervisor to say something nice about him.
.....My son has officially started "borrowing" my car to go places. God help us all.
.....I am going to another Kiarostami movie tonight. Last Saturday's film, Bad Ma Ra Ba Khod Khahad Bord (The Wind Will Take Us Away), was interesting. I was late and managed to get the very last seat way in the front, where my neck hurt for the duration, but it was worth it. I love the simplicity in his movies. I love the children who play in his movies. It was touching. I laughed a bit, too. I'll go to as many as I can.
.....I might take a few days off work next week to visit with my brothers and sisters who are coming for a family reunion. We will try to go somewhere together. This is no small feat, I assure you, as some 30 people will have to be mobilized to "go" anywhere, even for a cup of coffee!


Never Say Never

Several years ago, I said I will never iron a man’s shirt again. I was going about, keeping perfectly loyal to that charming statement, feeling glib about it. My sons are required to wear shirts and ties to their work. As it turns out, every morning (including the weekends) I now volunteer to iron not one but two men’s shirts, to save time departing the house. I don’t mind the chore, as it is one of those favors we tend to do with love for our children, except that I have to live with that statement, which now feels like a foolish thing to have said. Slogans are worthless, when you think about it. We should qualify every slogan we pick by adding: “…unless I have to.” Sigh.


Hamed Nikpay

My interview with Hamed Nikpay was published in Peyk’s Issue 110. Peyk is the publication of Persian Cultural Center in San Diego. You can look at that piece here for the Farsi text (Page 17) and here for the English text (also on Page 17). I had promised it in May when I had a post about this young artist. In the meantime, you can watch and listen to Hamed here, here and here (his website also has selections of his music). One thing I can say about Hamed Nikpay—in addition to his beautiful voice and music, this young man also has an impressive personality, full of hope, excitement and passion, and his honesty and optimism are sparkling and contagious. Those of you who live around here, don’t lose a chance to go see him onstage when he has a concert sometime later this summer. He is electric!



So, O.K. It might appear that I’m having entirely too much fun in my life! All I can say is that yes, that’s partly true! I am blessed to be living in a place where so much can be seen and done if you only make a small effort, like step out to lunch at 12:00 noon! But I should also like to add (in a whining, whimpering voice) that I could either be lazy and skip these events, or just go see them and never report them! These days I carry a camera in my purse all the time, and try to have some level of discipline about writing my short reports quickly, before I forget what happened! So, I should get some credit for my effort and for sharing with you!
Yesterday at lunchtime I watched the first of a series of performances taking place in downtown Berkeley on the sidewalk throughout the month of July. The Downtown Berkeley Association is sponsoring the event, and each week there will be a different appearance by groups playing a variety of different music, from jazz and blues to Latin American. Yesterday’s event was performed by United Capoeira Artists, who provided an exciting performance of Capoeira and Brazilian folklore music, directed by Mestre Acordeón. This was an interesting performance. The participants, who were of all ages, were doing a special kind of martial art in a very peaceful and playful way (smiling all the time!), to the beat of a beautiful and exciting music played by a large group of musicians who would take turns to play music, sing, and dance the martial art dance of Capoeira. It was amazing! You can go look at their site here, and watch a short clip of the Berkeley Capoeira Cafe here, and once inside you will also hear a bit of their music. I think someday I will go check them out, as their martial art/dance seemed to be a very joyful way to exercise and concentrate.
I wish you all a very relaxing and happy weekend. Be good to yourselves and to those around you.


Abbas Kiarostami's Works in Berkeley

I am so excited! Starting this Sunday, July 8th, there will be an exhibition of Abbas Kiarostami's photography in UC Berkeley's Art Museum. This is to compliment his film series which will also be featured in UC Berkeley's Pacific Film Archives, capturing each stage of the director's remarkable career. Many of Kiarostami's films, especially his rarely screened early works made for the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, will be shown. I guess now you know how I'll be spending my leisure time for the next two months! As I go and learn, I'll post my findings here. I can't wait to see the sweet and easy dialogues of love he has in his "Under the Olive Trees" again. I can't wait to look at the world through his optimistic and hopeful eyes. I can't wait to see the films I have never seen before. I'm so excited! If you live in this area, mark your calendars and go. You won't regret it.
Found the photo here.


Phone Call In The Car

“…Mom, what are you doing?” “I’m writing.” “That’s funny, it sounded like you were in your car, driving.” “I am in my car, driving, and writing…in my head.”

Independence Day

“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.” Thomas Jefferson Today is July 4th, which is Independence Day in the US. This is a national holiday in which Americans celebrate America’s independence from British rule. In cities and towns across America, there are celebrations and spectacular fireworks on this day. I wished I could encourage all politicians in the world, including contemporary American politicians, to go back and to read Thomas Jefferson’s writings and thinking about government, people, and politics. I believe he was a genius most of whose thinking is even more relevant today, globally, than when it was originally written. Happy Fourth of July!


White Mulberries (Toot)

Take a moment to look at my most favorite fruit in the world! These are white berries (toot sefid), grown on multi-branched leafy trees in Tehran, most notably in the suburb of Kan. They are quite possibly the sweetest fruits on earth, incomparable to anything else. Once a year in late spring and early summer, they are presented all over Tehran, heaped on huge round platters. Since I was a child, I never knew when to stop once I got started eating them one by one at an unbelievable pace and speed! Though it’s more practical to buy them in a shop, the best way to eat them is picking them fresh off the tree. I remember the ceremony of picking berries in Tehran. A big cloth was spread around the tree trunk, and someone would beat the tree with a large stick, helping the ripe berries fall onto the cloth, where waiting children would rush to have their pick! I miss the fruit, and I miss seeing them in shops, where bees would fly all over them, finding it hard to part with this, the sweetest fruit in the world.
Photo by Parviz Forghani, Iranian.com


Free Ali Farahbakhsh

Once a month now since April, I pull out his picture and talk about him. This is so sad, and it feels so inadequate. Can you for a moment imagine yourself in his place? A young journalist in the area of economics, returning from a workshop abroad, being arrested at the airport and sent to solitary confinement, wrongly accused, tried, sentenced and imprisoned for over seven months, deprived of basic human rights. His elderly parents are going crazy with worry (his father served as a judge himself for 30 years) and his young wife and toddler son are fending for themselves. Last month there was news of his deteriorating physical and mental health in prison. I can do nothing for him, but to remember him, and to remind the few people who come to visit me here that Ali Farahbakhsh is a prisoner of conscience, and must not be forgotten. This is something I wrote about him in April. Photo From Hanif Mazrooee’s Blog